This weekend marks the half-way stage of the first phase in the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League. And after a thrilling start, could we be seeing a new challenger emerging for the league title?
Airbus UK (2/1) – the league’s form side with four wins and two draws from their last six– are at home to TNS (11/10) on Friday night, in a mouth-watering clash where a win against the league leaders, would not only put the Wingmakers top but surely confirm them as serious championship contenders; having already thrashed Prestatyn 5-0 last weekend. TNS returned to winning ways last week at Aberystwyth but the 4-1 victory was in fact less convincing that the scoreline suggests. Two late goals eased the pressure on the Saints as Aber probed for an equaliser. If you’re going to go by the form-book, 2/1 looks great value for the home side.
With all the talk of Prestatyn and Airbus joining the title race, you could be excused for forgetting that seasoned competitors Bangor City (8/11) are still very much in the mix, currently trailing three points from top in fourth spot. After being pegged back to a draw at Port Talbot last time out, Bangor are on their travels for a successive weekend for their visit to Connah’s Quay (3/1). The Nomads have enjoyed a tremendous start following promotion, currently occupying fifth-place but I expect City to widen the gap between the two sides, with burly centre-forward Les Davies returning to full-fitness.
Winless in two, it will be interesting to see how lofty Prestatyn (5/6) respond to last week’s heavy defeat as they make the long journey south to Afan Lido (13/5). At first glance a visit to the Welsh Premier League’s basement side is the perfect remedy to steer Prestatyn into another winning streak but despite having lost their last six league outings, Lido do have an uncanny knack of finding goals and can be stubborn performers at home.
In what has been a generally mediocre start to the season for South Wales clubs, Llanelli (4/7) proves the exception as they continue to pick up points amidst a backdrop of financial uncertainty. Anyone doubting their mentality should consider their three-goal come-back inside the last seven minutes against Afan Lido last weekend, winning 3-2 to go fifth in the table and unbeaten in three. Port Talbot (4/1) are the visitors this weekend in what is the live game (S4C and online), after grinding out a disciplined point at home to Bangor. Time is slowly running out for the Steelmen to make a convincing charge for the top-six from their current ninth position. With the fixture entwined with former players pitted against their former clubs, a gritty draw at 11/4 can be expected but will do little to serve either side.
Park Avenue hosts an encounter between the league’s two most under-performing sides as Aberystwyth (11/10) entertain Carmarthen (2/1). Aber, last but bottom, have shown plenty of spirit in their last two tests against TNS and Prestatyn, despite taking a single point from both games, but the fact they have won just won just twice this season tells its own story. Carmarthen picked up a most welcome win at Newtown last Saturday and under-fire manager Mark Aizlewood will be keen to build on the momentum of a strong second-half showing. First-choice keeper Steven Cann returns from suspension to face his former club, whilst Aber have a number of fitness doubts including the influential Glyndwr Hughes. This one really could swing either way.
Bala Town (5/4) may have been latecomers to the Welsh Premier party this season but the Lakesiders have now strung together a run of four wins from five ahead of their visit to Newtown (7/4). Newtown enjoyed a steely start to their new campaign but have since lost momentum after struggling with injuries, and as a result, consistency has been hard to come by. I expect the prowess of Lee Hunt to tip the advantage to Bala’s favour and another three points for Colin Caton’s side could see them march into the top-six and finally silence critics following their poor start.
ENHANCED ODDS CORBETT SPORTS SPEICAL:
Aberystwyth, Prestatyn & Llanelli All To Win 11/2
Airbus UK 2/1 Draw 12/5 TNS 11/10
Connah’s Quay 3/1 Draw 13/5 Bangor 8/11
Aberystwyth 11/10 Draw 12/5 Carmarthen 2/1
Afan Lido 13/5 Draw 5/2 Prestatyn 5/6
Newtown 7/4 Draw 12/5 Bala 5/4
Llanelli 4/7 Draw 11/4 Port Talbot 4/1
Latest title odds: TNS 4/7; Bangor City 9/4; Prestatyn 9/1; Airbus 9/1; Llanelli 25/1